Yesterday was “Poem in Your Pocket Day." I tried to trump up some excitement about going downtown to hand out poems on downtown—but, in the end, it was me, wandering around the Circle and over to the State House at lunchtime, a beautiful day, with a handful of poems.
Approaching people, I said, “It’s National Poetry in Your Pocket Day, part of the celebration of National Poetry Month. Here’s a poem by an Indiana poet from the Writers’ Center of Indiana.”
I gave a poem to a policeman, who took it with a smile; to a young clerk in a shoe store at Circle Center Mall, who turned out to be a journalism major who missed writing and was delighted to hear that the Writers’ Center existed. I dropped poems on the tables of people eating at outside cafes, handed them (or tried) to Men in Suits and down-and-outs at a bus stop. I handed them to legislators and lobbyists near the statehouse, adding, “Please support the arts!”
There was a guy on the street handing out flyers for a jewelry store. I took one, gave him a poem in return. A barista at Starbucks, a visual artist, said poetry often inspired his work and he took a bunch of the poems to hand out himself.
High point: handing poems to two businessmen in Starbucks and walking past a while later to see one guy, now sitting by himself, reading his. It was this one, by Norman Minnick, a poem I particularly love.
While You Work
While you sit at your desk
water striders dance upon the surface of a pond,
high, thin clouds stretch across the sky,
and acres of tall grass, reticent after a long dry summer,
practice nothing but grace.
Low point: I walked up beside a stout gray-haired woman, did my spiel, poem in hand. She took it (no eye contact), folded it in half without looking at it, and put it in the trash. “Bad karma,” I said in a cheerful voice, as she crossed in front of me to enter a building.
Most amusing: “It’s National Poem in Your Pocket Day, I said to a receptionist.” She looked confused. “Comb?” she asked. “No, no, poem,” I said. We laughed.
“I’d much rather have a poem,” she said—and happily took the one I offered.